A taxpayer funded subsidy.
One good idea is the proposal from Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for Washington to assume some of the companies’ retiree healthcare expenses if they commit to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. The auto companies also provide the best justification for proposals from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to lower health insurance premiums for employers by shifting the most expensive cases to a public reinsurance pool. Others see the industry’s distress as a compelling reason to resume discussions about transferring all healthcare expenses to a national single-payer system.
Other, more immediately viable, ideas include using federal procurement to steer the companies toward greater production of hybrid vehicles and mounting greater efforts, through state-run manufacturing extension services, to increase productivity at small suppliers who provide most of their parts. Reciprocity should be the key: All public aid should be conditioned on reform at the companies.
So, because GM doesn’t make cars most people want, because GM management has driven the company into the ground, because the UAW has forced GM to guarantee unsustainable levels of wages and benefits, the taxpayer is supposed to step in and take the burden off their shoulders?
Gee, can I get bailed out when I make promises that I can’t keep? If so I’m going to promise my wife a Mediterranean cruise.
Of course, the difference is that they are a big company with lots of employees.
The rise of the automobile in the 20th century provided Americans unprecedented personal mobility. But the social mobility the industry offered may have changed the nation even more. Detroit’s assembly lines not only transformed rubber and steel into Buicks and Chryslers, they also carried men with strong backs but little education — whites and blacks, immigrants and native-born workers — from lives with meager prospects into the security of the middle class.
And so we are on the hook to bail them out no matter what? We get to pay for them to make more cars that people don’t want and for the workers to spend their lunch hours at local bars? Forever?
Are we going to also help the workers laid off when music recording switched from vinyl to CD?
I thought liberals were against corporate welfare?